no to the nonopticon

robbenislandtower.jpgSiva Vaidhyanathan has an excellent review article in the Chronicle of Higher Education on the present state of privacy, and why it matters. (Alec blogged it beautifully over at Librarians at the Gate.) He describes what kinds of relationships we develop that involve our reputations, our shared selves, and then dives into a critical reading of several books on the topic. He suggests we’re now in the age of the “nonpticon” rather than the panopticon – because we cannot see who is watching us. Here’s the rousing coda:

We must demand to know the terms of surveillance by our state and its partners in the private sector. We must be allowed to be agents in the construction of our reputations. We must insist on fairness, openness, and accountability in those institutions that commit such widespread surveillance. Otherwise we will cease being citizens. We will be subjects, mere fodder for our watchers, means instead of ends.

I’m looking forward to his next book, The Googlization of Everything, about which he blogs regularly.

photo courtesy of Mr Ush

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